Top 10 Bollywood Music Albums of 2016 – #1

Udta Punjab turned out to be every bit as good as the hype that surrounded it. Music can play a huge difference in any film, and for Abhishek Chaubey’s film, one that records the menace of drugs in Punjab, the music has to be completely in sync with the theme of the film. Not only does Amit Trivedi deliver, but he also hit the ball out of the park and has got everyone’s attention, from critics to the masses. It is no wonder this film tops our list of Top 10 Bollywood albums of 2016.

Chitta Ve has your attention as soon as it starts. The trippy beats and Babu Haabi’s prelude, the very engaging extended rap, has you hooked from the beginning. As the song goes on, it turns more electronic, and Shahid Mallya and Bhanu Pratap come in. While the rawness of the Punjabi vocals has been retained, Trivedi has added an electronic boost to it, magnifying the effect. Overall, there is a psychedelic feel to the track, which illustrates the theme of the movie very well.  I love how the song starts; it is my favourite part. Da Da Dasse is sung by Kanika Kapoor, the same Kanika Kapoor who became synonymous with Meet Bros. It was a surprise to see her name in the credit list before the album came out and after listening to the number, the surprise proved to be a rather pleasant one. Kapoor does a great job along with Babu Haabi, who also raps in this song. The lyrics here, as well as the entire album, are poignant – “Khaalipan te soona soonapan hai, Badi bechaini te kallapan hai, Tan rooh kaanp rahi, Maut kahin aalaap rahi”. What makes these lyrics even more significant and attention-worthy is the fact that Amit Trivedi has also contributed to them, although (I figure most of) it has been written by Shelle. It is also Trivedi’s arrangement here and the choice of keeping the orchestration minimal, that does the trick and keeps you hooked to Da Da Dasse till the end.

Late Poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s Ikk Kudi comes in two versions. The rock-influenced Reprise Version sung by Diljeet Dosanjh came out before the entire album did, due to promotional purposes. Trivedi has composed a beautiful melody for this song, and the electric guitar takes the centre-stage among the instruments here, giving it a lot of style. Sadly, his vocals sound rather ordinary, and while Dosanjh can and does sing otherwise as well, the arrangement for this rock version was so promising, that the rendering in front of the mic is a bit of a letdown. Shahid Mallya’s album version, on the contrary, manages to convey the beauty of the melody. The ballad style version is perfect for his soulful voice and the light and soft music at the back sounds gorgeous. When Mallya hits those high notes, the song truly transcends you.

Ud-daa Punjab has been excellently written by guest lyricist Varun Grover and composer Amit Trivedi does the singing here. The song is made more fun when Vishal Dadlani joins in with his rap. It is once again the instrumentation that stands out. The fusion of electronic and folk, almost bhangra meets hip-hop, is extraordinary and surprising. Trivedi also sings Vadiya which could easily fit into an EDM concert. It is perfect for the film, undoubtedly, as it has been structured like a techno-trance song clearly depicting a drug user’s state of mind. It’s a catchy number, but considering Trivedi has also made Oh Gujariya (Queen), I was left underwhelmed by this one while listening to it exclusively, without the aids of the visual.

Thankfully, Shahid Mallya got another song on this album. Hass Nach Le is a qawwali-styled number, and Mallya is an excellent choice for a track naturally dominated by the harmonium and the dhol and other percussions (by Raju Sardar). Akhlak Varsi is excellent on the harmonium, and the bit where his instrument is on the forefront sounds great! The brilliant part about this composition is that it seems so mainstream and yet not like the songs that get composed for a new album but sound so familiar.

Perhaps the best part about Trivedi’s soundtrack in this film is that while it was obviously fabulous, it got the attention of the critics as well as the masses, something majority of good albums are unable to achieve. Amit Trivedi, who has another album in the top 3 of our 2016 countdown already and has finished third in 2014 (Queen) and second in 2015 (Bombay Velvet), manages to cross the line in 2016 with the excellent, modern and fashionable Udta Punjab.